King Curtis Iaukea Death – Undisclosed Causes

King Curtis Iaukea could play a babyface but he sent chills up fans’ spines as a heel.

1937-2010 (Age 73 )

King Curtis Iaukea was a man who skillfully walked between two worlds in wrestling. At times, he could be a rugged babyface that the fans were quick to rally behind. At other times, he was the stuff of nightmares, a fiendish heel who seemed intent on nothing short of annihilation for his opponents.

Iaukea’s fearsomeness never lessened with age, and he played a terrifying manager, including a run in WCW as “The Master,” the evil force driving the Dungeon of Doom. Whatever role he played, Iaukea was known as one of wrestling’s greatest talkers, a gift he used to support himself after illness forced him from the ring.

Born Curtis Piehau Iaukea III on September 15, 1937 in Honolulu, Hawaii, the once-and-future king grew to be a formidable 6’3,” which made him a natural for football, playing as a lineman in college and later as a tackle in the Canadian Football League. Iaukea successfully made the jump from the gridiron to the wrestling ring and never looked back.

In his January 3, 2011 obituary on Iaukea, Dave Meltzer noted how Iaukea main evented around the world during the 1960s and 1970s. The Hawaiian native worked in his home state and his heel antics often led to problems with law enforcement, a tricky situation since Iaukea’s dad was the second top cop in Hawaii and Iaukea’s heel hijinks more than once incited a riot in an arena.

King Curtis Iaukea and His Who’s Who of Opponents

Iaukea held a laundry list worth of championships and wrestled around the world, including Japan where he had a much-praised series with wrestling legend Rikidozan. In Championship Wrestling from Florida, he battled Rocky Johnson, Dusty Rhodes, and Jimmy Garvin over the NWA Florida Heavyweight Championship.

King Curtis was also a top star in Australia’s World Championship Wrestling promotion (not to be confused with Ted Turner’s World Championship Wrestling). There, he held the IWA World Heavyweight Championship. Iaukea fought with legend including Billy Robinson, Dominic DeNucci, Stan Stasiak, and Mark Lewin over the title.

“That’s Not a Man, That’s a Committee!”

Iaukea’s was physically larger-than-life but even more so when it came to charisma and the ability to talk. While Iaukea seemed to be a natural for Hollywood, his only film role was in 1963’s The Three Stooges Go Around the World in a Daze, where Moe Howard succinctly said “That’s not a man, that’s a committee.”

Sadly, Iaukea contracted a blood disease during his in-ring career, a disease that plagued him throughout his life. The blood disease, combined with a slew of in-ring injuries forced him to retire in 1979 as he was no longer capable of working even the most basic of matches.

That didn’t stop him from managing however, and Iaukea was known as part of Kevin Sullivan’s unholy entourage in Championship Wrestling from Florida, in the WWF as “The Wizard,” and later in WCW, as The Dungeon of Doom’s leader, “The Master.”

The Death of King Curtis Iaukea

King Curtis managed a beach stand in Hawaii, entertaining locals and tourists alike with his many stories. Although he suffered health problems in his later years (many times coming close to death), it seemed like the once dreaded villain now turned Hawaiian cultural icon would never die. However, Curtis’ many health problems ultimately caught up with him and Iaukea passed away on December 4, 2010 at age 73

What are your favorite memories of King Curtis Iaukea? Did you see him wrestle or work as a manager? Let us know in the comments below.

Other pro wrestlers who died in 2010 include Angelo PoffoChris KanyonGiant GonzalezGrizzly SmithJack BriscoLance CadeLudvig BorgaLuna VachonMike ShawSkandor Akbar, and Trent Acid.